TLDR: the Philips Ultinon Pro9000 LED bulbs produce a similar (and excellent) level of brightness, colour and beam pattern as the earlier Philips Gen2 LED bulbs. Now with CANbus compatibility and a smaller and simpler bulb package the new bulbs are a heck of a lot easier to install (although still not entirely hassle free).
Update: These bulbs are now listed on Amazon (you can preorder for when they will be back in stock on the 19th of December).
Clearly the Philips marketing team seems to have shown a little more restraint/smoked less crack when naming these, but at least the product design and engineering team have been hard at work. After I had some issues with the second generation of Philips LED headlight bulbs (the “Philips X-tremeultinon Gen2” ) Philips customer support sent me a set of their yet to be released 3rd generation Ultinon Pro9000 bulbs (hence why I got a plain blue box). I’ve shot a quick video to compare these new LED bulbs with their predecessors and to show you how to install them. You can find that video below.
The retail box for the Pro9000 bulbs is a little more like you would expect from the Philips Ultinon range, and it looks like these are now becoming available to buy:
First off, they don’t come with a control unit or any resistors to try and make them OBDII compliant. Just a headlamp bulb and a short cable. Philips claim that these new bulbs should be OBDII compliant and no longer produce a bulb-out or other fault warning light and/or message on the dashboard – not that I had this error previously on the Mondeo Mk5, but I know a lot of other customers did. Crucially, this new form factor now makes them far easier to install than previous generations of LED headlight bulbs. No more do you have to try and cram inches of cabling along with resistors and control boxes inside of your car headlamps!
Secondly, the LED headlight bulb, heat sink and fan is now one solid piece, with a mounting ring that detaches for installation. This contrasts with older versions where the base of the bulb, which is a combined fan and heatsink, would unscrew. Potentially this older screw design could compromise the rate of conduction of heat from the LEDs down to the heatsink. This new construction of the bulb further reduces complexity – the old bulbs had a second power cable to power the fan in the detachable heat sinks. That is now retained inside the new bulb design.
My issue with the old 2nd generation of these lamps (that Philips customer support replaced by sending me the new Pro9000 bulbs) was that, after approximately 15 minutes of operation, the near side headlamp would turn off. Switching the car’s lights off and on again would get me roughly another 15 minutes operation. Reading the error codes from the car would show a short circuit warning for the bulb. After checking the wiring I believe that the old bulb or control unit was either over-heating, or was defective in some way. I had the variant of the Gen2 that had black plastic LED control units, but later(?) versions were manufactured with a silver, metal-bodied control unit. Perhaps this engineering change was made to address a potential overheating issue? Who knows. Not my issue any more.
The design of the new Pro9000 LED bulb features two lugs that hold the mounting ring in place, and which twists off for installation. The idea is to place the mounting ring into the car headlamp, secure it into place with the spring clamp on the back of the headlamp, and then insert the LED bulb and twist to lock it securely in place. That’s the idea anyway, but reality got in the way of that….
I found that they were still a little fiddly to install. Once the mounting ring was clipped into the headlight and the bulb placed into the mounting ring, I found I couldn’t twist the bulb to lock it in place in the mounting ring. Instead I had to undo the spring clamp holding the mounting ring in place and withdraw the ring and bulb by one or two millimetres to allow me to twist and lock the LED bulb in to the mounting ring. For some reason, when the mounting ring was properly secured, the construction of my H7 headlamps on the Mondeo Mk5 prevented the LED bulb from being twisted and locked into place. A little fiddly, but with the bulb twisted and locked in place, it could be pushed all the way back down and then the spring clamp could be clipped back to hold it firmly in place. On other cars, your mileage may vary.
I did notice that it might be possible to install the bulb into the headlight in two different ways, 180 degrees apart – I’m not sure if the orientation will affect the light output or bulb pattern. I did ask Philips support about this and they are yet to get back to me. Update: Philips tech support just said that the bulb had to be ‘perpendicular’. Perpendicular to the ground I assume, but they didn’t specify! So I assume it doesn’t matter which way up you install it.
Update – Thanks to Marco who left a comment to say that he found that having the “LED contacts facing up” produces a light pattern close to a standard bulb in their Yaris (which I believe has projector headlamps). By “LED contacts” I believe he means the cut out section.
On a final note for the Ultinon pro9000 LED bulbs, the two light emitting diodes on each side of the top of the bulb now make up a more compact light source than the 2nd generation bulbs (which used three diodes per side) . In theory this smaller, more compact light source should produce a better beam pattern, although I didn’t really notice any difference in the projector headlamps of the mk5 Mondeo – the beam pattern was just about as good and pretty-well defined. Philips claim that the light output and colour is the same and I couldn’t really notice any difference in the brightness and colour of these bulbs over the Philips X-tremeultinon Gen2 LED bulbs. It seems they justify the increase in price of the Pro9000 bulbs almost entirely by the increased ease of installation (and they are much easier!!)
For reference, the below video shows the performance of the X-tremeUltinon Gen2 bulbs on a dark lane on a mid-summer night. I would say that the Pro9000 bubs are just about as good – the light output is similar to the previous generation of bulbs, but the beam pattern doesn’t seem as well defined to me.